The web of Catholic codes of conduct in the National Maternity Hospital and Community National Schools

While protesters were on the streets last Saturday, campaigning against Catholic healthcare codes of conduct in our new National Maternity Hospital, the State is requiring children to respect those Catholic codes of conduct in our Community National Schools.

Catholic Codes of Conduct in the National Maternity Hospital

The campaign against Catholic ownership of our new National Maternity Hospital has been in place since the public discovered that the State intended to gift a brand new hospital, worth hundreds of millions of euro, to a religious order. You can read Atheist Ireland’s article in 2017 on this issue here

A letter to the Irish Times last Saturday from Jo Tully of the Campaign Against Church Ownership of Women’s Healthcare gives a clear picture of the issues involved. It states that:

“The nuns have never permitted procedures prohibited by the Catholic Church. Services such as sterilisation are most unlikely to be carried out in their hospitals. Medical consultants sign contracts binding them to the nuns’ ethos. At least 1,000 of Vincent’s 4,000 staff have attended courses in this Catholic belief system.”

“It is patently clear that the new maternity hospital needs to be taken into public ownership if it is to provide a full range of services, including abortion, free of religious influence and control.”

There is no denying the influence and control that the Catholic church has over our healthcare system and also our education system.  The Irish State just cedes control of vital public services to private religious bodies. The web of control that the Church has is supported by our Constitution.

This is also referred to in an article in the Irish Times which states that:

“At the rally on Saturday, Ms Shortall referenced a report on the front page of The Irish Catholic this week which stated that the Archdiocese of Dublin had not received notification that the nuns intended to divest themselves of the land.

The report pointed out that under canon law the disposal of all church property over the value of €348,460 needs the permission of the local bishop, in this case the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, and also the Vatican where the value of the asset is worth more than €3,484,595.”

There is every reason for protesters to be concerned about the ethos of the National Maternity Hospital. The Catholic Church has in place a code of conduct for healthcare workers called the Vatican Charter for Healthcare Workers, which was renewed as recently as February 2017. This states that:

“Healthcare workers should be given a solid ethico-religious formation, which promotes in them an appreciation of human and Christian values and refines their moral conscience. There is need to develop in them an authentic faith and a true sense of morality, in a sincere search for a religious relationship with God, in whom all ideals of goodness and truth are based.”

This code of conduct gives Catholic instruction to healthcare workers on such issues as artificial procreation, prenatal diagnosis, analgesia and anaesthesia, donation and transplant of organs, euthanasia, and sickness. Handing over our National Maternity Hospital to this private religious body simply cannot go ahead.

Catholic Codes of Conduct in Community National Schools

The people on the streets last Saturday may not realise the Department of Education has put in place a course in Community National Schools (GMGY Course) with learning outcomes that require children to respect the very ‘codes of conduct’ that they are campaigning against.

Education and Training Boards are the Patron of Community National Schools. At present, there are only 11 Community National Schools, but the plan is to expand that number in the divestment process.  The ETBs are managing the Divestment process as well as competing in it. They have also had private negotiations with the Catholic Church regarding the Community National Schools.

Of course, the result of all this is that the Catholic Church favours divesting their schools to the ETB/Community National Schools. And the Department of Education has given the Church a veto to ensure that is going to happen.

The Divestment plan as outlined by the Department of Education in January 2018 States that:

“Where the need for a transfer to a multidenominational patron is identified by surveys, the existing landowner, in cooperation with the local school community, will decide what multi-denominational patron to transfer to.”

In reality, those landowners are various bodies within the Catholic Church, such as the Christian Brothers or the Presentation sisters.  These landowners cannot divest to any other Patron body without permission from the local Bishop. The Bishop is not going to divest to a Patron body that does not conform to the educational philosophy of the Catholic Church.

Learning outcomes that require children to respect and demonstrate respect for Catholic ‘codes of conduct’ is a very big sweetener for any Bishop, as well as nurturing the faith of children from Catholic families. There may be a change of patronage, but the Catholic influence in our education system will still be present.


While protesters were on the streets last Saturday, campaigning against Catholic healthcare codes of conduct in our new National Maternity Hospital, the State is requiring children to respect those Catholic codes of conduct in our Community National Schools.

Whether it is our health or education system, every detail of any agreement or plan needs to be carefully scrutinised, because of the web of control and influence that the Church has in Ireland.


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